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High fun, low budget
This is by no stretch of the imagination a good movie. It is incredibly low-budget, and that leaves the OK(ish) acting badly exposed. That said, I thoroughly loved it!
To enjoy this movie you really have to be able to overlook the low budget. The "effects" are bad. Really bad. The alien dimension is an exact replica of Earth. The sets could come straight from a spaghetti western (perhaps they did). The "monsters" are people in mild fancy dress. The fight scenes are amateurish, and made more "exciting" by running the film faster. A three year old child could spot it without even trying. However, if you can accept the shortfalls for what they are – the result of an extremely low budget and an overreaching ambition – and allow yourself to ride with the tide, you will enjoy this film.
The saving graces come in the form of a fun script and Kay Lenz.
The script is not magnificently written, but the dialogue is fun and counterpoints many amusing incidents in the storyline. I won't highlight any incidents as I want this post to remain spoiler-free. However, if you relax into this movie and roll with it you will discover them for yourself when you find yourself laughing out loud – and you will perhaps be surprised that you are laughing with the movie, not at it.
Kay Lenz is also fun. If you like your heroines good looking and feminine but sparky, you will love her character. Having a female lead character in a film who looks like this, and is possessed of intelligence and verve, will always add a certain frisson for many male viewers.
I always find that one of the marks of a movie that has been particularly enjoyable is that at the ending I am surprised that so much time has passed whilst I was watching. This film met that criterion. It is refreshing to find this in a low-budget movie after sitting through some Hollywood blockbuster or other wondering how much longer it will be before the interminable film ends.
If you want to watch a fun bubblegum movie, and you are willing and able to overlook a budget so low that it hits you in the face thirty times per minute of running time, take a look at this film. You will have fun.
A Good Year (2006)
This is a well conceived romantic comedy. It is well written and the acting by all characters is good. In short, a perfect romcom.
The story, of course, is not original at its core. No romantic comedy can be. They necessarily feature the same basal story - boy meets girl, they fall in love, obstacles to the relationship occur, the obstacles are overcome and boy and girl live happily ever after (or at least until the credits stop rolling ). If this isn't to your taste you probably won't like this movie or any other romantic comedy. However, most other people will enjoy the film.
A Good Year is a charming movie. Whilst the main character undergoes a familiar journey of enlightenment (from a total focus on his career to a focus on his life) the movie successfully infuses originality and verve to the tale. The various twists and turns to the story are fun and unpredictable, adding to the viewer's enjoyment.
The characters are likable and one comes to care about them all. Provence looks beautiful, and the vineyard setting is charming. The movie provides a luscious feast for both the eyes and the mind, and the humour is well judged amusing, but never veering into the realm of farce.
Should you watch this film? For most people I would answer with a resounding yes, but there are certainly some who will not enjoy the movie. Each to his own.
Anyone who dislikes romantic comedies in general will probably not enjoy this film. I therefore suggest that anyone who falls within this group should consider other movies for their pleasure.
There are also some who will find themselves unable to enjoy the film on political grounds. This is, perhaps, a surprising comment with regard to a completely apolitical film, but it is nevertheless true. There are those who will find fault on the basis that the film is supposedly politically incorrect. Personally I find it hard to sympathise with their viewpoint, but if you are a dedicated politically correct liberal you may well be able to find offence in what is a very inoffensive movie.
However, I suggest that no one else should allow themselves to be guided by negative reviews (including some here on IMDb.com) from those who are politically motivated. Whilst I am sure that we all rest easier in our beds knowing that these individuals are ever-vigilant to the transgressions of politically correct shibboleths (or possibly not) please don't be misled by their zeal. There is nothing in this movie that will cause offence to any normal person.
If you are considering watching this film I therefore suggest that you should disregard the reviews of politically motivated reviewers. Look for the tell-tale comments through which they reveal themselves. Comments such as those which laud the performance of the actress who plays Gemma (the one non-white major character) as wonderful whilst criticising all other actors, or comments which criticise the supposed stereotyping of French or American people. I can assure you that no normal French or American person (or anyone else for that matter) will be offended by anything in this movie, and whilst Gemma's portrayal was certainly highly enjoyable, it was definitely not the sole highpoint of the movie. All of the character portrayals were good.
Summary Highly recommended.
Deep Throat (1972)
A (cheap) soft-core comedy which features hardcore sex
I have been aware of the movie Deep Throat since I was a kid, but have only recently seen it. My interest was piqued by the documentary film Inside Deep Throat, which I saw listed in the television schedule. Recalling the movie, I watched the documentary out of curiosity, then downloaded Deep Throat to view the source of all that attention in the 1970s.
I was interested to read the text that appears at the opening of the film. This refers to Sigmund Freud's theories with regard to the four mental stages of an individual, the last two being oral and genital. The text goes on to state that Deep Throat is a film portraying one young woman's transition from the oral to the genital psychological state. Yes, of course it is! Having watched Inside Deep Throat I realised that this was a sop to the legal authorities; porn was outlawed, but "educational" movies about sex were allowed. Thus all commercial porn films prior to Deep Throat had featured an overdubbed voice providing the "educational" content for the sex scenes. The Deep Throat producers were the first to abandon the overdubbed educational voice (or so Inside Deep Throat stated), and the opening text for Deep Throat was obviously their version of the "educational" fig leaf.
The movie itself was something of a surprise. The nature and extent of the sexual content was much greater than I had expected. Inside Deep Throat had stated that the film was the first proper commercial porn movie, so I had expected it to be a lot tamer than it was. In actuality it contained everything a current (non-fetish) porn movie would have, including graphic close-ups, anal sex and double penetration. Moreover, the graphic sex is on screen within perhaps 90 seconds of the opening credits, and remains on screen for most of the runtime. I would guess that sex is on screen for at least 80% of the movie's length.
Another surprise was that this is a short film about 61 minutes in the uncut version. That seems very short for a film which had such a large cultural impact.
One might suspect that Deep Throat is an example of quality over quantity - but this is certainly not a quality film. Every aspect is cheap and of low quality script, acting, camera-work, cinematography. It is also very obvious that all expenses were spared when making the movie.
This complete absence of anything resembling quality was another surprise. Inside Deep Throat had commented on the supposedly superior quality and production values of Deep Throat when compared to other porn films, particularly those made today. But this just isn't true. What you see on screen is an exact reflection of the reality of this movie a film thrown together for very little money by people with very little talent.
That being said, Deep Throat is still an enjoyable movie. I could never claim that it is a good movie, but it is enjoyable at its own level a silly film which provides an hour of fun entertainment. In fact it is rather redolent of many of the jokey low-rent soft-core porn movies made in the 1970s but with added hardcore sex. The script, though of low quality, is amusing - and sometimes very funny. This is true throughout, from the opening lines to the last. Largely because of this approach the film leaves the impression of being innocent fun, which some might find incongruous in light of the it's sexual content.
Linda Lovelace is OK in the lead role, but could never be accused of possessing a talent for acting. However, she is very good at the party trick which is the subject of the film, and when she performs this act she is never less than entertaining to watch. This being said, her general oral sex technique is not of the first-rank, lacking romance or tenderness. (I suspect that this is a consequence of being on-camera.) Nor is she a particularly good looking woman. However, she is sufficiently attractive for the purposes of the film. That is true for all of the women in this movie.
So should you watch this film? Well, obviously not if graphic sexual scenes offend you. But for everyone else I would say yes, it is well worth watching. Consider it a fun, silly comedy that happens to feature a lot of no-holds-barred sex and you will enjoy it. Just make sure that you don't watch Deep Throat in the expectation of viewing a masterpiece. If you do you will be sorely disappointed.
Try to catch the documentary Inside Deep Throat as well it will add to your enjoyment.
The Girl in the Café (2005)
Politically motivated and manipulatively exploitative
It seems that most (possible all) reviewers are unaware of the political background to the making of this film.
This movie was made in anticipation of the 2005 G8 summit, hosted in the UK. It was broadcast shortly before the summit. Gordon Brown, then the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (in other words the finance minister/secretary) made a big noise in the months leading up to the summit about increasing aid to poorer countries, cancelling debt etc. He wanted to save the World, and to be seen doing it.
No doubt his aims were in part genuine he's a big government, high tax, high government spending, "social justice" type of politician. However, his crusade was also a part of his campaign to make himself appear to be big, important and popular - in pursuit of his ambition to become UK Prime Minister. (In June 2007 he achieved his ambition.) The BBC as an institution are generally inclined towards the same big government, high spending approach as Gordon Brown, and this is reflected in their programming. During the run-up to the summit they ran a series of programmes deliberately designed to create and bolster popular support for Gordon Brown's position and the "Make Poverty History" campaign. This film was one of those programmes.
The BBC were open about the film's motivation in their original press release announcing the production. However, they were not as open to the public at the time the film was broadcast. No mention was made at that time of the political content. The movie was promoted entirely as a love story starring Bill Nighy (who was then enjoying the greatest degree of popularity and success that he has experienced during his career).
In other words the BBC set out to entice viewers to watch a politically motivated morality play whilst pretending that it was nothing more than a love story.
The film was written by Richard Curtis, a member of the Make Poverty History campaign. A quote from the BBC press release announcing the film makes things clear; "The Girl in the Cafe is a passionate plea to everyman - wrapped in a love story, a comedy and a unique drama." The full press release can be found on the BBC's website.
The political storyline deliberately mirrors reality. The fictional UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, like the real one, is seeking to save the World and in exactly the same manner. Other G8 countries are selfishly unwilling, but the girl in the story (Gina) magically metamorphoses from quiet, reserved and (apparently) entirely apolitical into an impassioned and eloquent champion of beliefs which are identical to those of the real "Make Poverty History" campaign.
What we have with this film is a story which begins as a romance between two reserved and lonely people, and then veers unsubtly into the promotion of a particular political viewpoint. It is only fair that people should be aware of this before they decide to watch a production that is promoted as a mere romance.
The film itself is OK up to the point at which the politics take over. I can't really rate it as more than OK; it is very flat and pretty grey.
Once the political messages start flying I guess the viewer's enjoyment will depend on their own political standpoint. If they are in the "something should be done" camp, or find themselves in that camp after watching this movie, they will rate the film highly. However, if they hold differing viewpoints, or regard the film's political points as shallow and simplistic, I very much doubt that they will enjoy the production. Without the political content the film is terribly weak because the political content is the main story.
The storyline deliberately leaves the political issues unresolved, although it hints at a positive outcome (as seen from the political perspective of the writer). The point that the film seeks to promote is clear when the film's broadcast date is placed in its chronological context; if sufficient pressure in the form of public opinion is brought to bear upon the politicians a positive outcome (again, from the writer's political standpoint) can be achieved at the real 2005 G8 summit. The writer is telling the viewer "It's up to you. Do something about it now."
This being said, the story does contain certain dark overtones. Gina ruins the lead character's career by making her suspiciously capable political stand. Can their meeting really have been coincidental? After all, she breaks up with Bill Nighy's character at the end of the film. Perhaps she used him for her political purposes and then, her aims achieved, dropped him as he was of no further political use to her? Bill Nighy's character suspects as much, in his diffident way, but she points out that it was he who spoke to her first in the café. But did she place herself in a position where he would be likely to do so? And if he hadn't spoken to her first, would she have then been the one to initiate contact?
In a normal film my conclusion would be that Nighy's character was used by the girl for political purposes. But this isn't a normal film, so it is interesting that the writer should choose to address this possibility. Perhaps his aim was to eliminate all possible suspicions concerning Gina's motivations in viewer's minds by the inclusion of the "You spoke to me first" scene. However, if this was his aim, he failed at least for this viewer.
The unresolved questions at the end of the film add a little interest, but not enough. Not nearly enough for me to recommend this movie to potential viewers.
The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958)
This is very much not the sort of movie for which John Wayne is known. He plays a diplomat, a man who gets things done through words and persuasion rather than physical action. The film moves with a quiet realism through its superficially unexciting story.
For the open-minded, the patient and the thoughtful, this movie is a rich depiction of an intriguing part of history.
There are two intertwining stories. The big story is of internalised, isolationist Japan and externalised, expansionist America clashing when their interests conflict. The small, human, story is of an outsider barbarian (Wayne) and a civilised Geisha's initial hostility and dislike turning to mutual respect and love. The human story is a reflection of the greater story of the two nations.
The movie is very well done and all actors play their roles well. The two lead roles are performed to perfection. John Wayne is excellent as Townsend Harris, striking exactly the right blend of force and negotiation in his dealings with the Japanese. Eiko Ando is likewise excellent as the Geisha of the title, charming and delightful. The interaction between her character and John Wayne's is particularly well portrayed. This is exactly how these two individuals (as they are depicted in the film) would have behaved.
The script is very well written. It lacks all pomposity. and is a realistic depiction of the manner in which the depicted events may have occurred. The characters are real people, not self-consciously "great" figures from history. Furthermore, the clash of cultures and interests is portrayed with great skill and subtlety. Indeed, the clash of a traditionalist, and traditionally powerful, isolationist Japan and a rising, newly powerful nation from across the ocean is summarised very well in one exchange between John Wayne and the local Japanese baron. Wayne complains that shipwrecked sailors are beheaded if they land in Japan, and that passing ships cannot even put into port for water. The Baron responds that Japan just wants to be left alone. Wayne's character replies that Japan is at an increasingly important crossroads of international shipping, and that if things continue as before the nation will be regarded as nothing more than a band of brigands infesting an important roadway. A very real summary of the way in which the two countries each saw themselves as being in the right, and saw the other as being in the wrong. The resultant clash between two self-righteous peoples with conflicting interests has its reflections throughout history, a continuing theme that echoes into the present and on into the future.
Cinematography and the depiction of mid-nineteenth century Japan, before the accelerated growth towards industrialisation that was to follow later in the century, is excellent. A visual treat, and an enlightening insight into Japan's ancient civilisation.
I highly recommend anyone, whether a John Wayne fan or not, to watch this film if you get the chance. Just be aware that it isn't an action film. It is a representation of an interesting place and time in history, and a slow-boiling love story which (much to their surprise) comes to dominate the personal lives of the two main characters. Watch this film on its merits, without preconceptions, allow yourself to be immersed in its story, and you will thoroughly enjoy it.
All in all, an excellent film.
The James Whale Radio Show (1989)
Bad late-night filler TV
I really don't remember too many details about this show, other than that it seemed to always be on after the real TV programmes had ended, and that it was pretty downbeat.
James Whale was one of those sardonic, cynical and unfunny type of "humorous" presenters. It was very much his personal show and was the worse for it. I watched short segments of the shows quite often but could seldom endure more than twenty minutes or so. Frankly, I found it depressing.
The only details that I can really remember were guest Cleo Rocas nearly falling out of her dress (James Whale's reaction was gentlemanly) and a great stripper act involving a witch theme, flaming torches and fire breathing. OK, I guess you can see where my mind was... hey, I was young!
I am very surprised to find that the show ran until 1995. Admittedly it did seem to have a run that lasted interminably, but 1995? Perhaps it survived on some ITV networks longer than others.
One thing that doesn't surprise me is the lack of attention this show has received here; as I write this there has only been one other comment, and no action at all on the message board. Such lack of interest is an accurate reflection of the programme. It was just late-night filler TV, cheap and definitely not cheerful.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
We Used Up All Our Ideas In The First Movie, Part 2
Before seeing the first Matrix movie I didn't expect to like it. I was dead wrong I loved that film. I therefore looked forward to the next two. I was wrong again I hated them both. Each is execrable, but "Revolutions" is the worst.
In fact, "hate" is the wrong word to use for this movie. Rather, I was bored. Revolutions is dull, unimaginative and impenetrable. I know, there are people out there who see impenetrable as deep and meaningful. In this case it's not. It is shallow and meaningless.
Revolutions has three distinct parts. In the first third not much happens, and what does happen is of no import. Most of the audience will have been lost by the end of this portion of the film disinterest will have caused their minds to drift. As the movie proceeds some may think that this inattention was the reason they didn't understand the film that they were at fault, not the movie. This is a mistake; Revolutions really is as dull and meaningless as it appears.
The second third of the movie is a seemingly unending, desperately repetitive shoot-'em-up. There are lots of special effects, but they are used to no actual effect. Moreover, the effects aren't really very special. The entire battle scene uses the old trick of low lighting and shadow to imply great effects without actually showing them. It doesn't work. All we see are duplications of the same few (very few) basic machines an obvious economy.
Moreover, some of the machine designs are just stupid. For example - why create a giant metal walking extension of a man, a walking waldo fighting machine, and then leave the operator totally exposed to well, anything, really. These war machines couldn't beat a stone-age tribe. "Look, here comes one of those stupid machines again. Let's just hide behind this rock/tree/hillock until it's close, then throw a spear/axe/knife/rock at the driver, kill him and take his machine for our own." As for emotional involvement with the characters in the battle forget it. They are, without exception, poorly drawn, shallow caricatures. If they die nobody in the audience is going to care the characters aren't real people, just pale, humourless shadows.
Another lowlight of this central third of the movie (an entire third of the movie used up on this drivel!) is the acting. Poor throughout the film, the "acting" of the characters in the "battle third" is truly ridiculous. The General is the worst culprit, closely followed by the Council members, then well, everyone else, really. It's almost as if the actors had no idea what the movie was about and - ah, yes, of course
WARNING - SPOILERS ARE PRESENT FROM THIS POINT ON
Then there is the film's ending, its "climax". Spectacular it isn't. No explanations are provided, no great revelations occur.
What we have is Trinity taking forever to die from injuries that quite clearly would have killed her almost immediately. Never mind, we get to hear her spout something about love again and again and again while Neo (on a desperately urgent mission to save Mankind's last hope for a future) takes his ease and waits for her to finish her pointless homilies.
After the woman finally dies Neo cuts a deal with the machines to eliminate Agent Smith in return for "peace". There is a bit of a fight, some meaningless wordplay, then Agent Smith attempts to absorb Neo. Neo becomes a duplicate Smith, the original Smith acts confused and the other duplicate Smiths go pop, followed by the original. The Neo Smith becomes Neo again, but dies probably. He's carted away in a manner that suggests some kind of Messiah figure. The machines stop attacking the city and that's that.
Much thought has gone into this film's ending by those seeking a deeper meaning. My own interpretation is that Neo "knew" the Matrix to be a fantasy to a degree and with an absence of doubt that others could not achieve whilst interacting within the Matrix. This knowledge gave him the power to manipulate the fantasy. It also grounded him to reality (the "Source"), and when the program Smith attempted to absorb his enemy he became "grounded" to reality through Neo. Programs are just lines of code in the real world; so Smith's existence as a coherent being could not continue.
However, deep thought into the "meaning" of the ending is wasted. This was a very poor, unsatisfactory finale. In fact, the entire movie was dire. It was both dull and dull-witted. It is obvious that the writers used up all their good ideas on the first movie. That film was excellent imaginative, innovative and understandable. It was complete in itself. But it was also very successful, and successful films must have cash-in sequels. So "Reloaded" and "Revolutions" came to be.
Unfortunately, there really wasn't much left to tell after the first film and certainly not enough for TWO films. Neo had been left in a position to wrap things up in the first movie, but that was a tale that would take only a short time to tell and would be uninteresting in the telling. So the writers chose to go all mystical and spiritual, seeking to imply depth and content where there was actually nothing, whilst providing a great big shoot-up to fill time and amuse adolescents and video game fans. It isn't enough. Not even close.
I would suggest that anyone who has not yet seen this movie should ignore the praise of those who imbue it with a depth and meaning that it just doesn't have. This is a bad film, pure and simple.
A good show, a shame it didn't last longer
I saw this show a while back on re-runs and enjoyed it. It's one of those gentle comedic dramas that come along now and then, strong on characterisation and dialogue. It was amusing, involving and a nice ride.
When I saw it I didn't know it had only lasted two seasons, but wasn't surprised; it really didn't have mass appeal. Not full-on enough for a 1980's audience - and even less so for today's viewers. Still, for anyone who can appreciate its strengths it has great appeal.
The only real flaw was the inclusion of the homosexual character. Very PC, but not an enhancement to the show. Still, this is a small criticism; this was a very enjoyable production, and John Ritter was great in the lead role.
When the show's run ended I missed it.
Rating - 8/10
Love, Cheat & Steal (1993)
You guys who rate this movie highly - You're being ironic... aren't you?
This has the look, feel and dialogue of a cheap made-for-video "thriller". It's bad.
Everything about this movie is poor. The acting is wooden and the script is worse. Even the score is low-rent. It's just cheap. It looks and sounds as though they had about $2.50 to spend, and they blew that on paying the local delivery boy to write the script.
Honestly, this looks like one of those "erotic thrillers" that are churned out by the dozen - the ones designed to appeal to those who really want to watch full-on porn, but can't admit it to themselves, so they watch soft-porn "thrillers" instead. This movie won't even satisfy that undemanding crowd, though - there isn't nearly enough nudity and sex.
There really is very little to say about this production that is positive. The only saving grace is that the twists at the end of the tale are interesting. It's just a pity that the whole enterprise is so poor, and the build-up to the climax equally so, that the impact of the ending is mostly lost.
If this film had been done properly - with a decent-sized cast, more locations, a well-written script, good direction and production - it could have been good. As it stands, it is just a waste of time.
The people posting positive comments must have an agenda. I don't know what that might be - perhaps they are John Lithgow fans, or they fancy the female lead, or maybe they just enjoy the idea of wasting other people's time by recommending rubbish. Whatever, I suggest that everyone reading this should look elsewhere for entertainment; you won't find it here.
I have given this movie three stars, and if anything that is too high. It only rates that much because of the ending - but I suspect that most people will have lost interest long before they reach that point.
Definitely a movie to avoid.
Rating - 3/10
Just Married (2003)
A few laughs, but generally hard going
There are several laugh-out-loud moments in this film, and it is only because of these that it doesn't merit a 1/10 rating.
The film is crude and crass. It tries to be very PC in its attitude to sex lots of talk, the presence of sex aids, the newly-wed wife who has been a player but is still (supposedly) sweet and charming but these efforts just add to the tedium and the unappealing nature of the two lead characters.
The story plods along, Ashton Kutcher (the male lead) is irritating and Brittany Murphy is short. Short of comedic talent and physically short; the disparity in the heights of the two leads is yet another distraction from the "action".
By their nature, romantic comedies are predictable when it comes to the overall plot; boy meets girl, they have difficulties getting together, but all is well at the end. That's OK, but this film takes predictability to extremes. There are the standard observations of an American abroad in Europe; some cars in Europe are small, French people are pompous and rude, the American makes a courageous stand for his inalienable rights against the French assault. Then there are the tired plot devices the characters face back in America; the rich family that doesn't want the daughter to marry poor, the valiant poor boy triumphing against the odds, the well, you get the picture.
Still, there are those laugh-out-loud moments. They stop the movie from being a total waste of time, but are not nearly enough to recommend it.
Sum-up Don't watch this film unless you are desperate.
Fun show with original and intelligent story lines
Like the only other IMDb.com commentator on this show, I am surprised that Switch has disappeared into TV Neverland.
On the strength of the cast alone, with a fairly significant star (Robert Wagner), a likable and first-rate character actor (Eddie Albert) and a future TV star, Switch should get receive recognition. Yet no one pays attention. Strange.
Still, the show stands up on its own merits. It had an original premise (which has since been copied more than once), cleverly constructed stories, snappy dialogue, spot-on action, likable characters and first-rate acting. All-round excellent entertainment.
If you get the chance to watch this on a rerun, take a look. You won't regret it.
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)
Fun movie from start to finish
I vaguely remembered seeing this movie once as a kid, but could only recall the Jerry Lewis "hat" scene, and the "Big W". So when I noticed it showing on TV one afternoon I recorded it. I'm glad I did.
"Mad World" is FUN. It's enjoyable throughout, and, not coincidentally, has some realistic observations on human nature. The situations and events are OTT, and never intended to be taken seriously, but, like all the best comedy, the commentary on people is right there in front of you.
The cast list is amazing. It includes a vast number of stars from the time (1963). All the main characters are stars in their own right, and many others appear throughout the movie in cameo roles. If, like the intended audience, you recognise the stars, this will undoubtedly add to your enjoyment. However, I suspect many people today will recognise only a very few actors (as did I, I am ashamed to admit). But that's OK this movie shines on its own merits.
The plot line is simple, and the fun comes from watching the characters chasing their dream. It's a wild ride, and every moment is immensely enjoyable. The acting is perfect, as is the comedic timing. Every scene has meaning (in the context of a fun film) and moves the story along - with a single exception. Whilst watching, I was puzzled by one scene which focused on three firemen for a few seconds. It was only later that I discovered that these were the Three Stooges, who I have only heard of and never seen. No doubt this scene will be amusing to those familiar with the Stooges, but for anyone who doesn't know them this is the reason for the scene's existence!
Some people find "Mad World" hilarious throughout. I am not one of them, but that's no bad thing. One can only laugh so long, and a production that strives for constant hysterical hilarity quickly becomes tedious and dull. For me, this movie represents the perfect blend for a comedic movie. It gave me some laugh-out-loud moments, evenly distributed throughout its run, frequent smiles and chuckles, and constant amusement. I can give no higher acclaim than to say that when I saw the film I was suffering from an extremely bad cold, but forgot this completely and enjoyed the film thoroughly.
I approached "Mad World" with a neutral mind. Frankly, I was quite prepared to read a newspaper whilst it was on if it didn't hold my attention or even to stop playback and press the Erase button. However, it more than held my attention; it proved an immensely enjoyable experience. I hadn't looked at the runtime prior to viewing, so had no idea that it was such a long movie. In fact, I didn't realise how long it was until it was over. I started watching in the afternoon, and was astonished to find that it was evening at the end. I hadn't glanced at the clock once, and if I had thought about it I would have guessed the movie lasted ninety minutes or so. For me, there really can't be a greater testament to how good this movie is.
In summary, this is a fun film throughout. It is peopled with likable characters played to perfection. The viewer wants them all to succeed. There are some nice, pretty girls to admire (I love the fashions on show very feminine, and very flattering), and the enjoyment never stops. "Mad World" is very different to so much of the "comedy" being produced at present, and is all the better for it. There is no cynicism, sarcasm, ridicule, sex, swearing or nastiness - and no politically correct message. It's just a fun movie that encapsulates much that is real by placing normal people in an extraordinary situation and having them behave in an extraordinary manner.
Highly enjoyable, and highly recommended.
Take a Girl Like You (2000)
Visually Attractive - But Little More To Offer
A production that offers a (very) modest plot but is visually enjoyable, this TV film/mini-series is ultimately unsatisfying.
Those who wish to gain a sense of the sights and sounds of England in the 1950's will enjoy the sets, fashions, cars and cinematography - as will those who were there and wish to reminisce. However, the storyline and characterisations are in reality more representative of the time in which the film was made than the period in which it is set. The sexual mores, in particular, are anomalous. (Much the same can be said of the novel on which this production is based.)
I can't really recommend this film unless you gain particular enjoyment from pretty scenery and the visual portrayal of another age. The storyline is extremely slender - and ultimately uninteresting - whilst the characters are paper-thin (unintentional) parodies.
Still, the sets and scenery are very attractive (as is the female lead). So if you just want to relax and let it wash over you, and don't mind the tediuus and unexciting sexual content, you could give it a try on a lazy evening.
I wouldn't bother, though...
Not Enjoyable, But Realistic
Kids is a largely realistic portrayal of life for a certain strata of New York youth society. The one major departure from reality is the depiction of this subculture as racially mixed. This is inaccurate; although such behaviour can be observed separately in all racial groups, such groups are strictly delineated along racial lines.
This depiction is in itself an interesting (and unintended) comment on the subculture of the media classes. Their taboos and mores require that they show harmonious racial integration even in a film which focuses on one of the lowest underclass subcultures in contemporary American society.
Kids was made in 1995, and cast a light on a cultural phenomenon that affects an even greater number of people across the Western world today. The film is even more relevant now than it was in 1995.
Many people, existing within mainstream societal culture, find it difficult to believe that such subcultures exist. The values (or what they perceive as an absence of values) held by the characters in the movie differ so greatly from the assumed norm that many will believe such lifestyles to be no more than a dark fantasy. This is a mistake. Such subcultures do indeed exist.
Across Western society, over the last four decades there has been a steady progression away from what are currently termed `traditional' values towards the values seen in Kids. This trend is merely more advanced amongst the underclass than in society as a whole. In truth, the logical and inevitable result of social liberalism is that all society must adopt the behavioural patterns exhibited in Kids.
The extent to which mainstream Western society has already come to resemble the Kids culture is not widely appreciated within Western populations. The reality is that in many places in America (and elsewhere) the recreational activities of heavy drinking, drug use, and promiscuous sex have become the norm amongst the young. (In this context `young' no longer refers to those aged 18 to 25, but rather to those aged 12 to 16. Moreover, such behaviour is increasingly to be seen in even younger age groups.)
The surprise encountered amongst those from older generations (`older generation' includes many people no older than 24 and often younger) when exposed to the realities of the sex, drink and drugs culture amongst the young is interesting. These people exist in a general societal environment which encourages the very attitudes and actions exemplified in Kids, yet they are unable to appreciate the inevitable effects of this culture on the behaviour of the young.
The depiction of drug use as normal is prevalent in the media. Likewise, promiscuous sex, and deviant or perverted sex is depicted as normal and even desirable. These ideas are not only included in dramas, but also openly advanced both in broadcast discussions and in the printed media. The idea that morality might have any relevance to sex or drug use has no representation in films, television or novels. This promotional wave of social liberalism has an inevitable impact. Over the years and decades, it alters attitudes across society. We thus witness an inversion of morality.
This inversion of the moral values that were generally unquestioned in Western societies prior to the 1960's must inevitably result in the behaviour depicted in Kids. The disbelief of those who are shocked at this idea is irrational. In many cases, their own live resemble to a greater or lesser degree those of the characters of this movie. Yet they fail to understand how the young could engage in such behaviour. The reality is that the young wish to be adult, to partake of the fruits of maturity. When those fruits are principally represented as promiscuous sex, drugs and drink throughout the media, and these activities are seen to be increasingly central to the lives of those who are older than themselves, the young will inevitably adopt the pursuit of these activities as a major objective in their lives.
Those who view the behaviour shown in Kids as aberrant and atypical are simply unaware of the degree to which behaviour amongst the young in the general population has come to resemble the behaviour of the characters in Kids. For example, recent research published in the respected New England Journal of Medicine shows that one in five Americans aged 12 and over now tests positive for herpes, eight thousand American teenagers a day contract a sexually transmitted disease, and 25% of sexually active American teens have an STD.
These figures, and many others, refute those critics who believe Kids to be unrealistic.
What we are witnessing and living through is merely a stage in the ongoing evolution of social behaviour. It is not a unique occurrence; it is a part of a recurrent cycle. The last period of sexual permissiveness in Western society preceded the Victorian era a time in which rather different values were adopted. The current era will similarly give birth to a very different culture. We exist during an interim period which marks the end of what was, and the beginning of what will be.
Kids is one small part of the process of cultural evolution. In itself it does nothing to alter the cycle, but in its realistic depiction of a section of our current culture it becomes a part of the process by which the cycle changes. The film thus has a value beyond the illustration of life as it exists for a certain section of contemporary society.
Very few people will actively enjoy this movie. Those who are unaware of this kind of lifestyle will find it utterly distasteful, whilst those who follow the same (or similar) behavioural patterns will not wish to be reminded of the threat of disease that permeates their existence.
Still, everyone should consider watching Kids. It won't be fun, but it will be informative and it will make you think.
Rating - 6/10
The Warriors (1979)
A Wild and Exciting Ride - Excellent
Although this film seems to be extremely well known, I had no awareness of it before watching it recently. I therefore had no preconceptions. Now that I have seen it, I can say that it is excellent.
Other commentators place great store by how realistic the film is. Interestingly, those who were there seem to find it realistic, whilst those who weren't often doubt its authenticity. To me, at least, it seems very real. I don't know how the locations, fashions or gang culture depicted in the film compare to reality, as I have never lived in New York (visiting doesn't count), let alone lived there in the 1970's. However, the characters are very real. I have known many very similar people, and whilst the details of gang culture vary, the general aspects do not. I was impressed by the realism in these areas.
There were one or two things that jarred. The messianic characteristics of the leaders of the Riffs seemed over the top, as did the gang `colours'. Did 70's New York gangs really dress like that and wear face paint? I suspect this is (effective) artistic licence, but stand to be corrected by those who know better. I do know that the gangs weren't racially mixed, and their depiction as such does detract somewhat from the film. However, it's not a big problem (political correctness in its early stages was present even in the 70's).
I was surprised to learn, from comments made by those who say they were there, that guns were such a rarity back then. I had assumed their rarity in the film to be another instance of artistic licence, allowing the fights to be conducted hand-to-hand. You learn something every day
Ultimately, however, the question of realism of detail is for me relatively unimportant. The dynamics of the characters and gang culture are right, the script is good, the premise interesting, the execution exciting. I identified with the gang members and empathised with their culture. This is probably the films' major achievement; the ability to introduce people from very different backgrounds to the gang culture of 70's New York (no matter how real or unreal it may be) and cause them to understand and identify with the priorities and values of the portrayed characters.
WARNING MILD SPOILERS AHEAD
I also enjoyed the manner in which the script wove sub-stories into the main plot. There is a little love story in there, the bad girl who wants more (and to be more), plus the gang warlord who sees the limitations of his gang existence (and who, by the end of the film, decides to make more of his life).
Overall, the cast were very good. Unlike some, I found Michael Beck's portrayal of Swan to be very realistic; he is the deserving star of the movie. Indeed, all the Warriors were well played, but for me, Mercy (played by Deborah Van Valkenburgh) stole the show. Her `whore with a heart' (OK, `slut with a heart' if you're picky) was excellently played, making her character very real and very appealing.
Mercy disappears from the film at one point, presumably never to return and her presence is missed. Her reappearance is a welcome surprise; an excellent twist in the story. Even then, after her return, I was still never sure that the hero and heroine would get together (so unlike most films). I was happy when they walked off hand in hand into the new day at the end of the movie.
There are also some touching and telling moments woven into the story. I particularly remember the moment that Mercy, riding on the subway train, suddenly becomes conscious of her dishevelled and dirty appearance (refreshing that, for once, the heroine becomes genuinely grubby after being exposed to dirty, grimy places) when two prom couples sit opposite. In that moment, you know that it isn't just her appearance that troubles her - her whole life suddenly seems dirty and grubby, and she wants more. Her instinctive reaction is to try to tidy her hair. When Swan stops her, and she looks meaningfully at him, we understand the goodness of his heart and the strength of the bond that has formed between them. Very simple, very effective.
Of course, there are objections to the film. The Warriors are pretty bad guys. In reality, prior to the events portrayed in this film, they would have hurt people some badly, perhaps some permanently. Some they may have killed. This isn't seen in The Warriors they are shown in a good light, only hurting people in self defence, and even then never going over the top. No one is badly hurt by them, despite the use of some pretty serious weapons. The only exception to the `good' Warriors is Ajax, who attempts the rape of a woman and even that ends badly for him.
However, once again, I have no strong objection to the depiction of the Warriors as good guys. The film places us in the position of sympathising with the Warriors, and on this night at least they really are the good guys (Ajax excepted), just trying to get home in one piece.
In summary, this is a very enjoyable and exciting film, and one that, for many, will be an insight into a world that is totally alien to their own.
There is some profanity which might offend (but then this can be said for most films made from the 1970's onwards), and of course violence. But the violence is far from extreme, and I would be happy to recommend the film to anyone looking for an exciting ride.
Dull, Proselytyzing Drivel
Fantasy and science fiction films (and literature) are a personal favourite, but this film isn't.
My dissatisfaction derives from three sources.
First, the film is very dull. There is a great deal of philosophising; indeed, a great deal of talk of all kinds. Then when the action finally arrives, it is distressingly predictable. One can hear the minds of the writers ticking over (their minds obviously never ran faster than idle pun intended). 'Well, let's see this mutant has this set of powers so let's invent a situation that allows him to save the day. OK, that's him done now let's invent a different situation for the next mutant to solve and the next and the next and the next ' (Oh no, even writing these words makes the film live - or rather die - again in my mind.)
The second problem is the central premise. The mutants are going to replace us? And I am supposed to be happy about this, to cheer for them? Forget it.
Finally, there is the problem of the constant promotion of liberal doctrine. Thou shalt be tolerant, thou shalt not be racist, thou shalt worship diversity and on, and on, and on, and on (Hey, with that kind of repetition I could be a scriptwriter well, for the X-Men films, anyway.) Yes, we get it the mutants and their situation are a metaphor for 'racism' in our society, and they represent what we are told will be the future - the (supposedly) desirable mixing of races into an eventual universal racial homogeneity.
This repetitive political message has no place in a popular entertainment movie, and can only detract from the enjoyment of the audience. Alright, there isn't much entertainment in this film anyway, but this propaganda just makes it worse. It's not the message that's the problem specifically it's the endless, dull repetition and the fundamental objection to indoctrination in entertainment. I would have the same objection regardless of the nature of the message being promoted.
Watching such films only makes me more aware of the increasing similarities between 'Western' societies and those of such countries as Saudi Arabian, China or North Korea. Very different countries, very different beliefs yet they all have a lack of individual freedom in common, and a media that knows its place; a media that only creates productions that promote the politically correct doctrine of the homeland. You doubt the similarities? Well, when was the last time you saw a production from Western media that promoted the idea that homosexuality is undesirable, that immigration is bad, that racial interbreeding should be avoided, that women should have more children instead of pursuing a career - or even that women are not as strong or physically able as men? It's not that I agree with these ideas or disagree with them. My views are irrelevant. The point is that many people, both inside and outside the 'Western' world, do hold some or all of these views. Indeed, at least one of these views (women are not as strong or physically able as men) is held almost universally. Yet how often is the exact opposite view portrayed in the western media, with women out-muscling (and outfighting) men? My concern is that ideas that do not conform to politically correct doctrine are not allowed to be portrayed. This is not freedom it is totalitarianism. We are on a dangerous path, and X-Men is one of the signposts pointing the way.
OK, rant over. You get the point I really don't like this film. With more imagination, less proselytizing, and a storyline that didn't contain the central premise that we should cheer for our own destruction, X-Men could have been so much more.
An opportunity lost.
Carry on Emmannuelle (1978)
Not A Real Carry On Film, But OK
Some years ago I saw Carry On England, and was appalled. It was utterly unfunny, execrable, sleazy drivel. (You guessed it I didn't like it!) It also bore no relation at all to the previous Carry On films.
I had assumed that England was the last of the original series, and was surprised to see Carry On Emmannuelle recently listed in the TV schedules. Given the unadulterated rubbish that was the previous film, I had intended to give Emmannuelle a miss but decided to record it just to take a look.
When I came to watch the film, I did so with my finger poised over the Erase button. But I was pleasantly surprised; the Erase button remained untouched. No, it's not a great film, or even very good, but it is OK. It is quite funny overall, and occasionally very funny indeed.
I also found the film to be extremely sexy. This is quite an achievement for a silly comedy, and is entirely due to Suzanne Danielle in the title role. She is simply stunning, with a magnificent body. But more than this, she plays the part with a charming innocence hard to achieve when her character is engaged in promiscuous sexual acts (and frequently disrobed) throughout the movie. On the strength of her performance here (aged just 21) it is hard to understand why her career never really took off. Perhaps her appearance in this silly film marked her, or possibly her heart wasn't really in it (she left acting permanently when she married in 1988). Whatever, in this film she shines she IS the film, and I found her more attractive, appealing and sexy than Sylvia Kristel ever was in the real Emmanuelle.
Some members of the old Carry On cast appear in this film, but only Kenneth Williams has a significant role. The others are really just part of the scenery. This is appropriate, since the film really has no place in the Carry On series. The original films (Carry On England excepted) were funny, joyful affairs. Innuendo and double entendres were famously rife, but were mild and included in an innocent, fun manner. There was never any overt sex or nudity on show. Emmannuelle, in marked contrast, is a film that is entirely centred on sex. Both sex and nudity are blatant and frequent. The nudity is mild, the sex never graphic (and more implied than depicted) but this film is nevertheless VERY different from previous offerings in the series. Innuendo has become statement of fact, double entendres are now bald sexual comments, and the script is far less clever.
Carry On Emmannuelle was obviously an attempt to update the series, a response to the changing mores of the movie (and real) world. It can realistically be characterised as a soft-porn comedy. As such, I feel that an enormous amount has been lost and nothing gained. The old films were clever, and they were fun. Not great contributions to the world of cinema, but hugely enjoyable. They have become a part of British life, discovered anew by succeeding generations, and of fond remembrance to adults who found them as children and enjoy dipping into them again occasionally when they appear on television. Carry On Emmannuelle will never achieve this status.
It's a pity. If the producers had made a film in the old mould perhaps the series could have continued. Or perhaps not. Possibly the original films were products of their time, and by 1978 their time had passed. Perhaps audiences enjoyed the re-runs of the old films on television, but wouldn't have paid to go to the cinema to see a new film in the same genre. Still, I would like to have seen the attempt made. As it is, the series ended with Emmannuelle. It had to. The film just wasn't good enough to garner a new audience, and was so far removed from the earlier films that the old audience were never going to transfer to the new film.
Carry On Emmannuelle is best viewed entirely apart from the previous films. There really is no connection to the series other than the reappearance of some of the same actors. Next to the old films, it is lost in a fog of disappointment and shock at what became of the series. However, judged as an entirely separate film I can say that I quite enjoyed it. It is far from outstanfding, but I found it more enjoyable than the average film. Eighty eight minutes were spent quite happily, and never dragged.
I fully understand why others might hold a very different opinion. The film is far less than the originals, and many who happily watch those films with their family will be appalled at the sexual content and nudity. If mild nudity and sexual content offend you, I recommend that you avoid the film entirely. Otherwise, why not take a look for yourself? (If nothing else, if you are male you will certainly enjoy Suzanne Danielle!)
If you do watch this film, please be sure to cast thoughts of other Carry On films from your mind and enjoy this silly but entertaining film on its own merits. Like me, you may quite enjoy the blend of mild sexual content and comedy on offer.
Rating - 6.5 / 10
Slums of Beverly Hills (1998)
Mildly entertaining, occasionally somewhat amusing
This movie is OK, but no more. Worth watching if you're not otherwise engaged, but don't go out of your way to see it.
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD
Many have called this a story of a dysfunctional family. I tend to disagree. True, the parents are divorced but let's face it, that is very normal in current Western society. Other than this, the family members have a very healthy relationship. They bicker, tease and irritate each other on occasion like all families, but they also love and care deeply for each other.
They are dysfunctional in society, not towards each other. They occupy a strata of society which is just beyond the edge of what many consider to be acceptable (or lawful). But the activities that would be beyond the pale in wider society are normal and natural in their own sub-culture.
This attitude is realistically depicted in the movie. Thus, the 15-year-old Vivian (the main protagonist) has an on/off boyfriend who is a full-time drug dealer. She is a minor who has sex with this (older) boyfriend because he is available when she decides to lose her virginity. She then leaves him without a backward glance at the end of the film. One brother smokes cannabis. A cousin, Rita (played by Marisa Tomei), has escaped from a clinic treating her for drug addiction. She is pregnant by a deadbeat casual boyfriend with whom she has lost contact. When she tells the boyfriend that she is pregnant he discards her completely. She subsequently attempts suicide. Her uncle (the father of the main character) takes her in partly as a means to extract monetary support from her father (his brother). Rita introduces Vivian (a minor) to her vibrator, and encourages her to borrow and use it. She does so, and this is shown (without any graphic detail) onscreen. Vivian stabs her uncle (with great force) in the thigh with a fork because he is being verbally unkind to her father during a meal.
The movie portrays the sub-culture with sufficient skill that most viewers will treat much of this behaviour as acceptable in the context of the character's lives.
The film has no real plot. It is a story of a short but eventful period in the life of the protagonist. This includes her sexual awakening, and a brief time during which her family experiences a taste of a better life (thanks to the money extracted by her father from his brother). Nothing earth-shattering happens, but many will find echoes of their own lives in at least some parts of the story. This, together with the good characterisations and acting, makes the movie a worthwhile experience.
I have three main criticisms. They concern plot devices which really contribute nothing to the story. I consider their inclusion unnecessary at best, distracting at worst.
First, the script makes a particular point of identifying the family as Jewish. Yet this fact, having been stated, is never made use of in the film. There is no reason they shouldn't be Jewish, of course but it is puzzling that so much was made of this fact when it was entirely irrelevant to the story.
Second, there are (I believe) three close-up breast shots. They are so close-up that only the breasts can be seen, nothing else not even the neck or stomach. The inclusion of these shots jars with the rest of the film, which makes me wonder whether they were added in post-production to try and `juice-up' the movie. In fact, the effect is detrimental.
Third, there is one scene in which the father, when comforting his niece (Rita) after her attempted suicide, commits an incestuous act. Specifically, he `cops a feel' by slipping his hand inside her top as she sits at his feet (she had given him no encouragement, and subsequently objects). This action is so totally out of character with the father's actions in the rest of the movie that it is simply unbelievable. Doubtless the intention was to shock and to intimate that any man, no matter how unlikely, may be a sexual abuser. But the actual effect is to intrude on the viewer's `suspension of disbelief' - this man would not have committed such an act.
It also seemed a little pointless to set the movie in 1976 (pointed out by an caption which appears shortly after the opening credits have ended). Granted, the depicted society is such that the movie could not realistically have been set in any previous decade of the twentieth century. But no advantage whatsoever was taken from the chronological setting. Only the cars (VERY few in number), music and the clothes were specific to the era and all of these things could easily pass unnoticed to a viewer who was not paying full attention. The story could have been told equally well by placing it in the 80's, 90's or 00's. The only explanation for the 70's setting seems to be that the story is supposedly semi-autobiographical. Presumably the writer (who was also the director) grew up in the 70's.
These criticisms are quite minor in relation to the rest of the film, which is entertaining in its way. There are some amusing scenes (the vibrator dance for example) but no real laugh-out-loud moments; the enjoyment lies mainly in the drama of these people's lives.
This is perhaps more of a woman's movie than a man's, but not excessively so. It's worth giving it a try (unless you are likely to be offended by the sexual content or language). Most will quite enjoy this film. And some, I am sure, will love it.
Battlestar Galactica (2003)
The original BSG was pretty OK. The new version isn't. It's passable, no more.
I saw the new BSG with no foreknowledge. I didn't even know it existed until the day before I saw it. I watched it because I like sci-fi, and I remembered the original. My hope was to see an improved version, but the new movie is less than the old.
The script was poor; just plain unexciting. The storyline has been made darker than the original, in the usual belief that darker is more real. It isn't. Usually, it's just duller - like this version of BSG.
The film-makers sought to portray a drama. They failed - all they did was remove the adventure, the fun and the humour from the original production.
The camerawork and presentation is amateurish. Sure, this was done deliberately, to (supposedly) add realism. They wanted the appearance of a documentary. What they got was the appearance of low quality.
The characters swear. Well, the female characters do. They say `Frack'. Great. That really makes the show real, doesn't it? Any form of swearing in films is just useless filler - a means for a poor writer to try and convey thoughts and feelings his talent hasn't the capacity to portray by other means. This approach always fails; adding swearing doesn't elevate a script, it detracts from it. Substituting `Frack' for **** doesn't change that.
Some acting in the movie is OK, some isn't. Edward James Olmos merits special attention. He plays Adama the same way he played the Lieutenant in Miami Vice; one-dimensional and pretty weird. Long ago, at the dawn of time, I remember laughing at his acting in Miami Vice. My brother was a fan, and I still remember my comment to him - 'If you met him in real life, you'd tell him `You're a strange little man, aren't you?'. My opinion hasn't changed. Remarkable that an actor can have progressed so little in so long.
The special effects were disappointing. Battle scenes were confusing, and what has happened to the Cylons? The director (or maybe the producer) has said that back in the late 70's you could get away with portraying the Cylons by putting a man in a suit, but now you can't. So what is his solution? Take the man out of the suit and portray the Cylons as just normal people. Really big advance, that. Aliens were portrayed in human form in the 50's because they hadn't the ability to do more. Now, they're portrayed in human form because the producers are too cheap to pay for the effects.
There were some real Cylons in the show, and they looked pretty good. But they never talked, were onscreen for perhaps 60 seconds total - and were animated for only 10 seconds of that time. Not impressive. Men wearing Cylon suits from the original movie would have been better.
The show has also been thoroughly PC'd-up: multiple multi-racial relationships, sex scenes, and our species is always referred to as `Humankind' or `Humanity', never `Mankind' or `Man'. Male characters are replaced by females in the same roles. The women act like men, the President is a woman -naturally. (Repeat after me - `Men and women (no, I mean women and men) are exactly the same except for some minor, irrelevant details of internal plumbing'. After all, that reflects your own experience in real life, doesn't it?)
Some people think it intelligent to take the mores, values and taboos that are promoted as the one true path in America in this time period, and portray them in futuristic movies. This isn't intelligent, it's foolish. The idea that a civilisation separated from us by endless centuries of isolated development would have values identical to those of current-day America is ridiculous. You don't have to cross the galaxy to understand this. Try taking one step across the Mexican border and you encounter an entirely different ethos. Come to that, step outside the minds of PC politicians and the chattering classes into real-life America and you encounter a different reality.
So much difference in one world - or one country. How could an entirely different set of worlds be so similar? The real attraction of sci-fi is that it stretches the mind beyond our everyday experience. Scriptwriters, show some imagination please; portray different times and places as actually being different.
I could go on with my criticisms, but won't. You get the idea. The original BSG film was a lesser Star Wars - but that's OK. It was never intended to be a realistic depiction of our long-lost relatives in Space. It was fun, humorous, entertaining. Not a major event in life, but a pretty decent movie for its time. Even now, it remains entertaining. I would give it 6.5/10. (I exclude the series from this rating - it was worse than the original film.)
The new movie could have been so much better than it is. It could easily have been better than the original film. Instead, it is worse. An opportunity lost.
I am very disappointed. However, as I said at the beginning, this movie is still passable. By all means take a look if you are interested - just don't expect anything fantastic.
My rating - 5/10
Another Stakeout (1993)
An enjoyable, fun movie.
OK, it's not as good as "Stakeout". I understand that anyone who has seen the original will be a little disappointed by this sequel, but if the original had never been made I think this film would have been well received by the audience. I suspect it would have done pretty well at the box office, but would not have been the big hit that "Stakeout" was.
There are those who criticise the presence (and performance) of Rosie O'Donnell, and blame political correctness for her insertion into the plot. There is no doubt something to that, but personally I didn't find her performance, or the character that she played, objectionable. She was fine in the context of the movie.
One thing that did bug me, however, was Maria - the pivotal female role in the first film.
The first problem was that Maria made such a brief (and inconsequential) appearance in the sequel. Her presence and impact in the first film was so great that she really should have had a much stronger role to play in the story. That was disappointing.
The second problem with "Maria" was that I didn't recognise the actress that played her. Watching the movie, I assumed they had replaced the original actress because she was unavailable. Maybe that was the reason they gave the character such a small part to play. But why didn't they use an hispanic actress in the role? It might be just me, but having a non-hispanic actress replacing an hispanic actress in an hispanic role detracted from the movie.
I was therefore extremely surprised to later learn that the role of Maria had been played by the same actress in both movies. Admittedly, it had been a long time for me between viewing the first and second films, but my memory couldn't be that bad, surely?
The answer was that Madeleine Stowe, who played Maria, wore hispanic makeup in the first film but didn't do so in the second. Doubtless politically correct dictates made it unacceptable for actresses to "black-up" by the time the second film was made. Extremely strange, since the actress is half Costa Rican, and is therefore (presumably) half-Hispanic in real life. Still, who said political correctness had anything to do with reality or practicality? A disappointing feature of the film that was an unnecessary distraction.
Still, minor quibbles apart, "Another Stakeout" is an enjoyable and entertaining movie.
All Men Are Mortal (1995)
Dull, Pretentious, Amateurish
An interesting premise, a man cursed with immortality, is here turned into a very dull tale. The immortal man maintains the same dreary expression and monotone voice throughout, and this is an accurate reflection of the film as a whole.
This is one of those movies that requires only a portion of your attention; very little happens, and even that is entirely predictable. If you want to watch, I suggest you have a newspaper handy to help you through.
The whole enterprise has a very French feel. Not a good French movie, but one that concentrates on trivialities and inconsequencialities, devoid of any likeable main characters or plot, and posessed of an entirely negative attitude to life.
There is also a very dated feel. I was astonished to find that it was made in 1995. Even though I recognised one or two members of the cast, I would have guessed rather earlier. In fact, in the absence of that cast recognition I would have placed it in the early 1960's - a very bad C-class 1960's production.
There is really no need to watch this film - just read this summation of the "plot"; All life is fleeting and futile. Everything is the same, repeating endlessly. All is dull and dreary. Those who think otherwise are deluded fools. They can only maintain their illusions because a mortal life is so short that this burning truth can be partially disregarded.
I honestly suggest avoiding this one. Just read the above summary and regain the 90 minutes of your life that would otherwise be lost forever.
Magical - Don't Miss!
When I first saw this movie, I loved it. Having recently seen it again after several years, I found it to be every bit as good as I remembered in fact, better. So I thought I would visit IMDB and see what others had to say. I learned four things;
1/ This movie was a flop at the box office. Funny, I had always assumed it was a hit it was so good, and spawned three (soon to be four) sequels and a television series.
2/ I expected some to be less than entranced with Highlander, but was interested to learn that there are those who think it complete rubbish.
3/ Some people think the sequels are good movies. How could they?
4/ Some people don't like the Queen soundtrack. How could they not?
It is always interesting to see different viewpoints, especially when they are completely contrary to your own. But for me, this movie was perfect. The premise was intriguing, the story was beautifully told, the joy and pathos of an immortal amongst mortals revealed with great skill. There was great action, romance, the tragedy of love lost and the baddest of bad guys to overcome.
The casting was excellent, as was the acting. Sean Connery's contribution was exactly as it should have been, and no more. Clancy Brown's performance as The Kurgan was joyfully terrifying, Christopher Lambert was spot-on.
The screenplay was excellent, as was the script. I was especially impressed with the way that flashbacks were interwoven with the ongoing story. In fact, this is the only flashback movie I have ever liked.
I was also thoroughly impressed with the action sequences. Unlike so many recent movies, none of the action involved the physically impossible (with the obvious exception of the fact that the immortals were immortal, of course). This added enormously to the appeal, in direct contrast to so many movies made in the last decade. I despair when I watch movies where people perform the impossible. Even the classic scene `Oh, I'm falling but it's OK, I can just grab this rope/branch/flagpole/whatever, and even though I have fallen 30 feet and am travelling at 20 mph, I can just stretch out my hand and arrest my fall as though I was no heavier than a feather' destroys all credibility in the action. I know, this is a fantasy movie anyway, so what does it matter? Well, realistic action is even more important in fantasy movies; it helps the audience to willingly suspend disbelief. This is very difficult to do when you are busy giggling at the latest fantastical feat you have witnessed. No such concerns in this movie the action was perfectly judged to reflect the prowess gained from centuries of experience, whilst avoiding the impossible and the ridiculous.
I was intrigued to find one user comment on IMDB criticising the use of `unnecessarily large and heavy weapons'. Anyone who has used (or even picked up) any edged weapon will be aware that they are very heavy. Moving that kind of mass means lots of momentum, and involves very distinctive body movements to counterbalance the weight. Most movies use toy weapons plastic, fibreglass or wood and the lack of mass shows in the actor's movements. For the uninitiated, this may make for flashier and faster action but for those who know, it looks like children playing pretend. The use of weapons with real weight in Highlander adds tremendously to the realism. It was particularly impressive that the actors could use the weapons properly (at least to the extent demanded by the choreographed scenes and that is all that is required for movies). Clancy Brown (as The Kurgan) deserves special praise here he had the largest and heaviest weapon, yet wielded it like a veteran. One can only imagine the endless hours he spent perfecting his movements and balance.
I do understand why some would find the soundtrack intrusive, but for me this was another area that was perfectly judged. Queen's songs enhanced the mood of the moment whenever they played. One related fact that some might find interesting a few years ago I saw a list of the top ten best movies for music as voted for by students. Highlander made the list the only non-musical to do so. (In fact, I think it came in the top five.) So I would guess that the soundtrack works for most people..
I also understand why the accents in the movie (Christopher Lambert's and Sean Connery's) are a problem for some. However, I was happy with Lambert's accent; it was Scottish enough for the Highland scenes, and suitably indefinable for the modern settings. Sean Connery was, of course, Sean Connery he never adopts any accent other than his own. But that's OK it doesn't detract from the film, any more than it detracts from any of his films (such as Red October). I tend to agree with his point that accents don't matter emotions are the same, regardless of nationality.
Just a quick word about the sequels disappointing. I am not one to decry all sequels as inferior. In fact, many sequels are very good, and some are better than their progenitors. However, the Highlander sequels were without exception very poor. The original film was obviously conceived as a one-off, and was all the better for it. The story was complete with Highlander, and the sequels were necessarily contrived. However, Highlander II exceeded all expectations in this regard. The plot changed the story of the immortals beyond all recognition. Egregious just isn't a big enough word to describe it.
The sequels are best viewed as being entirely separate from the original. If you haven't already seen them, be prepared for a decidedly tepid experience.
But Highlander itself ah, there's a real movie. Sit back and enjoy!
Fun movie - Relax and enjoy
I'm not interested in dance, I seldom like movies with female leads, I have no interest in films portraying everyday life (I already live there). So I shouldn't like this movie - but I do.
Don't take Flashdance too seriously - it's a fairy tale. Sit back and suspend disbelief, get into the inspirational theme and don't dwell on the minutiae of the script. There are flaws - but so what? All films have flaws, some more than others. It's the overall effect that counts, not a list of individual faults. This movie is far better than the sum of its parts; the ending alone is worth more than the whole of many other films.
A little piece of the early 80's in form, style and spirit. For those who were there, a reminder of what was. For those who came after, a joyful dance through a time that is no more.
The Day the World Ended (2001)
Big Title, Small Film
This is a 1950's science fiction B-movie remade for the noughties.
Some of the expected variations from a 50's movie are present - the injection of foul language, the obligatory sex scene and the emphasis placed very firmly on horror rather than sci-fi. There is also the predictable selection of nasty, unlikeable characters, a complete absence of fun, and a much-reduced level of excitement compared to the old films.
Unfortunately, one change that should have been evident - improved special effects - is entirely absent. The effects are not only very un-special, they are inferior to many of the most ordinary 1950's sci-fi movies.
Still, it's a somewhat entertaining film. Something to watch if you find yourself at a loose end and there's nothing else on TV that you want to see. It will keep you mildly interested for much of the runtime.
Just don't let the somewhat starry names of the leads (Randy Quaid and Nastassja Kinski) mislead you. This is a small film, with an uninspired central premise, adequately executed - no more.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993)
Dull, Boring, Predictable, Pretentious
As I write this I find myself amazed that I can even bother to comment on this poor apology for a Star Trek series.
Star Trek shows have always been a reflection of America at the time of their production, and unfortunately this was doubly true of DS9. This is not a criticism of America - I like and admire America, and like Americans. But in the 90's (and still today) America and other Western countries became afflicted with a dread angst about race and "multi-culturalism". These concerns, and the received wisdom of the chattering classes, were presented and endlessly repeated throughout the series.
DS9 wasn't entertainment. It wasn't an adventure. It was a drama, a morality play promoting the doctrine of political correctness. There were no aliens in the show - just people with rubber masks, performing the roles perceived to be occupied by different peoples and cultures in America and around the world in the 1990's.
It wasn't exciting, it wasn't original. It wasn't even mildly interesting. It was... well, it was just a soap opera that happened to be set on a space station. Give the actors different make-up, lightly modify the scripts by removing references to space, and set the show in small-town America - and you have a standard daytime soap.
Still, I watched the majority of DS9's episodes all the way to the end. Why? Well, I'd started so I wanted to finish, it was on after work and I watched while scanning the daily paper - and it made acceptable moving wallpaper. It also showed a little more life towards the end, with Worf being drafted in, the war, the "Defiant" warship (hey, DS9 actually doing some trekking!) and a little action - occasionally. The producers were obviously fighting for the show's survival, and tried to inject some interest into their relationship drama. But their heart really wasn't in it. The action was mostly lost in a morass of talking, arguing, contrived politics and (still) heavy-handed instruction in politically correct attitudes.
There are those who view the simplistic and uneducated portrayal of moral issues and political activities in this show as deep and meaningful. They're not. Their representation is childish and shallow. If you want to find wisdom and deep philosophy, look elsewhere. And if you want entertainment, this is still the wrong place to spend your time. Even loyal trekkers will have an overriding feeling of enduring, rather than enjoying, this production.
Still, some will get something from it. If you're one of them - good luck to you.
I opened this comment with a statement of amazement; I now close it with equal astonishment. Astonishment that I have written so much on a production of such little worth, and some surprise at the strength of my criticism. This is undoubtedly a measure of the frustration and disappointment felt towards DS9, which could and should have been so much better. (Watch "Enterprise" to see how it should be done.)
No wonder DS9 had a shorter run than any other Trek series bar the original. If it had been a standalone show, lacking the established Trek fanbase from other productions, I find it difficult to believe that DS9 would have lasted even one full season.
RIP Deep Space Nine - your time is past. No films (who would pay to see them) lie ahead, you are gone forever.